Major League Baseball will allow teams to accept CBD sponsorships, a watershed advance for cannabis acceptance in professional athletics.
The office of MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred notified teams this week that hemp-derived CBD manufacturers can sponsor teams starting in 2023 – as long as the products don’t contain THC and have been certified by the NSF, a prominent, independent food-safety group.
Potential sponsors would have to be vetted by the commissioner’s office first, Sports Business Journal reported.
The announcement makes MLB the most prominent professional sports league to embrace CBD.
Currently, the UFC, a mixed martial arts circuit, is the most significant sports entity to allow CBD endorsements.
“We’ve been watching this category for a while and waiting for it to mature to the point where we can get comfortable with it,” Noah Garden, MLB’s chief revenue officer, told Sports Business Journal.
“It’s a good opportunity for us and the clubs.”
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Baseball’s announcement comes two years after MLB removed cannabis from its list of banned substances and four years after the influential World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) did the same.
The MLB sponsorship announcement opens the doors for brand patches on uniforms and televised commercials.
The league said it would monitor commercials for approval similarly to how it oversees sports-betting ads.